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The Whole Foods Kosher kitchen

Spinach Lasagna Recipe. Gluten-Free and Low Carb Variations

Posted on 15th of October, 2013 by Lévana

Spinach Lasagna Recipe. Gluten-Free and Low Carb Variations

Dear reader, please don’t ask me why until recently I found the preparation of lasagna so daunting, while I can whip up a couscous or a Bourguignon or an apple tarte and much more to feed a dozen guests, in no time flat and with great alacrity, and if I may so myself, with great success. I do love lasagna flavors, and I do appreciate it as a great treat. In the traditional lasagna preparation, it is the layering I feel OCD type A about. That and boiling the noodles. Oh, and sauteing vegetables for the sauce. A baking pan, a pot to boil pasta, a skillet to make the sauce. Then all aboard in the oven, ciao, see you again in about an hour and a half. See what I mean? This is how I saw my mother in law make it, and her lasagna was out of this world and we all used to beg for it. Once years ago, I catered an annual Dinner for Ramaz School, and the lady who was working on the menu with me explained that she would love to offer the dinner guests a first course with all the components of lasagna…. my heart skipped a beat, but she continued cheerfully… looking more elegant, prepared individually: Pasta shells, two per person…. I exhaled. Anyone else would have been sweating bullets at these news. Now, simple math: About 350 guests, 2 per person, total 700 shells, much more labored than, say, 20 giant pans of lasagna that would have given me about 35 pieces each. I could have kissed her. So what’s wrong with me?

Since all kids big and small love lasagna, which my granddaughter Sara calls lasa-nee-a (rhyming with Tanzania), I recently revisited my phobia with the hope of conquering it. Since I very rarely use regular wheat for anything, I got Gluten-free no-boil noodles, and proceeded to assemble my lasagna. For some frustrating and puzzling reason, it took forever to cook, it never got ready for dinner, and my kids, grandkids an we settled (happily thank Goodness I might add) for crepes. My granddaughters laughed heartily at their la-di-da hotshot bubbie chef who couldn’t whip up a lasagna. PS it did get out of the oven eventually, and we saved it for the next day’s dinner. Too little too late, but yes it WAS delicious.

Well that did it! That fiasco made me feel like those recalcitrant bikers who after taking a spill vow to go right back on and hit the road again. I was prepared to pull out all stops. With the help of some lasagna mavens, and I am embarrassed to say, a near sleepless night, I did some real troubleshooting before my next launch.

- No-boil noodles, including gluten-free. OK if there’s plenty of moisture (sauce, liquid from frozen veggies etc…) so they are thoroughly imbibed.
– Try your very best for FLAT (not ridged) noodles. They are flat and all immersed evenly in liquid so, it will work better and will cook faster.
– Allow a little more baking time than instructed on the box, so you are ready for dinner.

The night I tried again, I served four children and six adults. Great trepidation from all of us, same cast as on the night of the lasagna that got cooked after the children’s bedtime and close to our own. Looking gorgeous, obediently yielding to the knife all the way to the bottom. YESSS!!! Thank You Gd for small blessings! There was one thing I nipped in the bud before we started, I had just worked too hard for this: on average one pre-dinner gripe per person: I don’t like spinach; I don’t like cheese; I avoid gluten; I’m on a low carb diet. In other words, to accommodate all quirks and all special needs, it looks like I should have made one variation per person. A minor miracle took place just then. Seeing how crushed I was, all the clamor subsided: Don’t worry I’ll eat it, everyone said, adding lots of hugs and kisses to their promises. I am delighted to report I sold out! So will I do it again: Yes, gladly!

Here I am giving you a very simple but no less delicious and children-friendly lasagna, totally streamlined, taking into account the dislike many of us have for dishes that require multiple steps and multiple utensils. I only used my ingredients, plus my baking pan; I hate to say I won’t have it any other way, but if you don’t mind the extra steps and the extra utensils, for special occasions go ahead and saute mushrooms, onions, garlic, even ground meat for a dairy-free lasagna.

Attention low carb lovers: Unless you are severely carb-restricted, I should tell you that in the whole Lasagna recipe, only about 10 ounces of pasta sheets total are used, averaging at about one ounce pasta per serving: Not bad at all, is it?

Spinach Lasagna Recipe

Ingredients:

2 jars marinara sauce, any natural brand you like. 6 cups total

1 9 ounce box flat no boil noodles or Gluten-free no boil noodles

1 pound ricotta cheese

1 pound feta cheese, crumbled (or other cheese, grated)

1 pound frozen chopped spinach, defrosted (don’t drain, the moisture is useful here)

Instructions:

Follow the steps, each layer clearly given below, one by one. As simple and as dumb as that!

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Use a 9×13 baking pan. Try your very best for REAL, not disposable. Make sure each layer covers the whole surface thoroughly

1 1/4 cups  marinara sauce (save the measuring step, eyeball)

lasagna noodles side by side, covering the whole surface

1 1/4 cups marinara sauce

Ricotta. All of it

lasagna noodles side by side, covering the whole surface

1 1/4 cups marinara sauce

half the cheese

spinach. All of it

1 1/4 cups marinara sauce

lasagna noodles side by side, covering the whole surface

1 1/4 cups marinara sauce

second half of the cheese

Cover tightly and cook 45 minutes. Uncover and cook another 20-30 minutes, until the mixture is nice and melted and bubbly.

Note: Lazy lasagna. Low Carb Lasagna. 

Here’s what I would do:  I would boil 1 pound of my favorite noodles, including gluten-free or low carb (like shirataki noodles, also called miracle noodles. almost no carb, no cooking required), throw them in a large skillet, and toss them with all above ingredients minus the lasagna noodles, on a low flame, until heated through. This will save you the whole layering and the whole baking time, preserving all of the flavors.

Baked Stuffed Pasta Shells: Much easier than it sounds, and really fun. Boil giant pasta shells until just al dente, Mix the ricotta, cheese and spinach (this time squeeze it dry first), stuff the shells with the mixture, and place them on a baking pan with the open side down, pour marinara sauce all over (you might not need all of the 6 cups), and bake in a preheated 375 degrees about 20 minutes. Low carb version: Stuff partially hollowed zucchini or eggplant or pumpkin instead of shells.

Filed under: Gluten Free Recipes, Gluten-free pasta recipes, Healthy Cooking Recipes, Kosher Recipes, Lasagna Recipes, Low Carb Pasta Recipes, Low-Carb Recipes, Natural Foods Recipes, Pasta Recipes, Recipes, Stories

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5 Questions

  1. Juan Carlo, on Said:

    I think pasta is one of the most popular food choices for social gatherings. and if its on a big scale you can just make it your self and not hire a catering service. I love your recipe. Just from reading makes me want to get up and go to the kitchen

    Reply
    • Lévana, on Said:

      Bracha, why? Here are a couple main reasons: Because some people are allergic to gluten; Because some people (like me) like to explore with non-wheat alternatives, even thought they have no allergies, just to explore with better whole grains; because most commercial prepared Gluten-free offerings are not so healthy, and making them at home is in my opinion the way to go.

  2. judith epstein, on Said:

    Levana— I hit on many of the same methods for my lasagna, but instead of Feta, I use Farmer Cheese, which has less fat. I mix equal parts Farmer and lo fat ricotta with an egg (or egg whites) and some dried herbs/garlic for the cheese layer. I love Feta and will give your combo a try.

    Reply